|Fritz Von Erich|
|Birth name||Jack Barton Adkisson|
|Born||August 16, 1929|
Jewett, Texas, U.S.
|Died||September 10, 1997 (aged 68)|
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Cause of death||Brain and lung cancer|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Fritz Von Erich|
Tetsu no Tsume (Iron Claw)
|Billed height||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Billed weight||260 lb (120 kg)|
|Billed from||Denton, Texas|
|Trained by||Stu Hart|
Jack Barton Adkisson Sr. (August 16, 1929 - September 10, 1997), better known by his ring name Fritz Von Erich, was an American professional wrestler, wrestling promoter, and the patriarch of the Von Erich family. He was a 23-time world champion and a record 20-time WCWA Champion. He was also the owner of the World Class Championship Wrestling territory.
Adkisson attended Southern Methodist University, where he threw discus and played football. He has been reported to have played with the now defunct Dallas Texans of the NFL (not the AFL team which became the Kansas City Chiefs), but this is not true. He was signed as a guard but was cut. He then tried the Canadian Football League (CFL).
While in Edmonton, he met legendary wrestler and trainer Stu Hart, and Hart decided to train and book him in his Klondike Wrestling promotion, naming him Fritz Von Erich and teaming him with "brother" Waldo Von Erich as a pair of "evil German" brothers. Adkisson's oldest son Jack Barton Adkisson Jr. was born September 21, 1952. He died in 1959 after an accidental electrocution and drowning, and Jack Sr. stopped traveling to the east coast, allowing former partner Waldo to use the Von Erich name in the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
Despite Jack Jr.'s death, Adkisson continued to travel and wrestle. Adkisson won both versions of the AWA World title in 1963. His major circuit was Sam Muchnick's NWA territorial stronghold in St. Louis, Missouri. He wrestled there until 1967, when he voluntarily left the territory after losing a match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against then-champion Gene Kiniski. In the late 1960s, with Muchnick's backing, Adkisson became the promoter for the Dallas territory, effectively overseeing the Houston and San Antonio territories, as well.
Adkisson was a part of rebuilding Japanese wrestling after the stabbing death of Rikid?zan. He became a star due to his feuds with Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, and his "Iron Claw" hold, which became one of the most popular wrestling moves in Japan.
In 1982, he held his first retirement match against King Kong Bundy in the newly renamed World Class Championship Wrestling promotion, based in Dallas. The promotion was known for its high production values, use of entrance music and the use of television syndication. The promotion was one of the most successful territories in the United States, with major draws like his sons, The Fabulous Freebirds, Chris Adams, Abdullah the Butcher, Bruiser Brody, Gino Hernandez and Rick Rude. He wrestled his last match on November 27, 1986 defeating Abdullah the Butcher by disqualification in Dallas. By the end of the 1980s, the promotion's talent pool was thin and it was eventually merged with Jerry Jarrett's Continental Wrestling Association to create the United States Wrestling Association in 1989.
Adkisson married Doris J. Smith on June 23, 1950. Together, they had six sons: Jack Barton Jr. (September 21, 1952 - March 7, 1959), Kevin (born May 15, 1957), David (July 22, 1958 - February 10, 1984), Kerry (February 3, 1960 - February 18, 1993), Mike (March 2, 1964 - April 12, 1987) and Chris (September 30, 1969 - September 12, 1991). Of Adkisson's six sons, Kevin was the only one still living by the time Adkisson died. The couple later separated and Doris divorced her husband on July 21, 1992 after 42 years of marriage.
Adkisson died of brain and lung cancer on September 10, 1997. His funeral service was held at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. His body was cremated with his ashes interred in the same plot as his fourth son, Kerry.
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